Once a jail has been built, money must be allocated for its daily operation. In general , net annual operating casts for a specific jail facility are calculated as thecost of personal services plus other operating costs, minus revenues. Something called "facility cost' is net annual cost divided by 265. Dividing facility cost by the number of beds yields average daily cost per inmate. [20] Funke's estimate of annual per-bed operating costs of $14,000 noted above, means that he is estimating average daily cost per inmate of $28 and annual inmate facility costs of $5,110,000 in his hypothetical 500 bed prison. However as is the case with construction costs, operating costs vary widely. The most common estimate is an annual average operating cost of $15,000 per inmate. [21] Yet in their study of incarceration costs, Cory and Gettinger argue that evidence from their 15 state survey also shows a consistent pattern of underestimating annual per-bed operating costs due to the failure of prison authorities to take into account such things as staff fringe benefits; interagency services supplied by other units of government and charged to budgets elsewhere in the government network-, and other off-budget items. Careful analysis of state corrections budgets have shown actual annual per-bed operating costs to be about 30 percent to'03 percent higher than "official budgets" would suggest. [22] Therefore it is altogether possible that the true per-inmate annual cost of operation is not $15,000, as official figures suggest, but closer to $20,000.

In addition to being difficult to estimate, it is dear that the costs of building and operating corrections facilities are quite high by virtually any standard – certainly higher than even knowledgeable people would assume. Nevertheless, there is absolutely no question that money would solve the prison and jail overcrowding problem in Michigan as well as in every other political jurisdiction – federal, state, or local – where correction facility overcrowding exists. Therefore the relevant questions are: When preparing to address overcrowding problems using traditional government "within system" means, do we really know what it costs to build and operate prisons and county jails and; are citizens prepared to pay the present and future costs required to expand these facilities using "within system" means?